My alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is not known as an athletic powerhouse, but MIT does offer a surprisingly large number of varsity intercollegiate teams (at times it's had more varsity teams than any other college and the school has national championships in sailing and pistol). The 'tute has intramural leagues in everything from soccer to Quidditch which involve most of the student body, with teams fielded by fraternities, labs, and dorm floors.
When I was in school, one varsity team we lacked was football. Untethered from loyalty to our own school, MIT undergrads continued to root for their home-state teams. We certainly never imagined a day when MIT would have a better football season than the Sooners.
A few years before my arrival, students organized a club team, which existed with minimal Institute support. More attention was paid to the hacks MIT students perpetrated at other colleges' football games. The Wall Street Journal recently featured the humble origins of the MIT football team and the marching band.
Now, not only does MIT have a varsity football team (since 1988), it's undefeated and in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
This Saturday the MIT Engineers will face the Wesley College Wolverines at Wesley's home field in Dover, Delaware.
This calls for the MIT cheer:
e to the u, du dx, e to the x, dx;
cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159;
integral, radical, u dv;
slipstick, sliderule, MIT!
The alma mater, performed by alumni of the male a capella ensemble, the Logarhythms:
And the drinking song, performed by the mixed voice a capella ensemble, the Chorallaries:
Law professor Josh Blackman has done a detailed analysis of the legal advice given to President Obama regarding his executive order effectively granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. The White House's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) drew some very fine distinctions that have escaped the attention of the popular press.
The gist of it is this: No, a president can't simply decide not to enforce a law on the books. Prosecutorial discretion has to be exercised on a case-by-case basis. The administration may adopt guidelines that prosecutors should consider when deciding whether or not to prosecute, but a policy that precludes automatic application to an entire class. Some relevant quotes from the OLC memo:
We advised that it was critical that, like past policies that made deferred action available to certain classes of aliens, the DACA program require immigration officials to evaluate each application for deferred action on a case-by-case basis, rather than granting deferred action automatically to all applicants who satisfied the threshold eligibility criteria....
Finally, lower courts, following Chaney, have indicated that non-enforcement decisions are most comfortably characterized as judicially unreviewable exercises of enforcement discretion when they are made on a case-by-case basis.... Individual enforcement decisions made on the basis of case-specific factors are also unlikely to constitute "general polic[ies] that [are] so extreme as to amount to an abdication of [the agency's] statutory responsibilities." Id. at 677 (quoting Chaney, 477 U.S. at 833 n.4). That does not mean that all "general policies" respecting non-enforcement are categorically forbidden: Some "general policies" may, for example, merely provide a framework for making individualized, discretionary assessments about whether to initiate enforcement actions in particular cases. Cf. Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 313 (1993) (explaining that an agency's use of "reasonable presumptions and generic rules" is not incompatible with a requirement to make individualized determinations). But a general policy of non-enforcement that forecloses the exercise of case-by-case discretion poses "special risks" that the agency has exceeded the bounds of its enforcement discretion. Crowley Caribbean Transp., 37 F.3d at 677....
Further, although the proposed policy is not a "single-shot non-enforcement decision," neither does it amount to an abdication of DHS's statutory responsibilities, or constitute a legislative rule overriding the commands of the substantive statute. Crowley Caribbean Transp., 37 F.3d at 676-77. The proposed policy provides a general framework for exercising enforcement discretion in individual cases, rather than establishing an absolute, inflexible policy of not enforcing the immigration laws in certain categories of cases.
In another entry, Blackman imagines President Rick Perry issuing an executive order to "to defer all prosecutions for any tax payer that pays at least 17% of their flat tax, even if the old brackets suggest they owe more" among other discretionary steps.
MORE: This week's "cold open" on Saturday Night Live featured a new Schoolhouse Rock video: Who needs a bill when you can issue an executive order?
Last last week, NRO's Charles C. W. Cooke traced the transformation of Barack Obama from the 2008 senator who wanted to rein in the executive branch to the 2014 president who has gone well beyond the actions which he had condemned in his predecessor's administration:
Noting in 2008 that he "taught constitutional law for ten years," and in consequence took "the Constitution very seriously," Obama determined that "the biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all." "That," the candidate assured his audience, is "what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States of America."...
And yet, just one short year after he had told students that he was hamstrung by the rules, the president did precisely what he said he could not, refusing to "enforce and implement" those "very clear" laws and abdicating disgracefully his "appropriate role as president." Obama called this maneuver "DACA," although one imagines that James Madison would have come up with a somewhat less polite term.
Evidently, the new approach suited the president. Soon thereafter, he began to make extra-legislative changes to Obamacare, without offering any earnest legal justifications whatsoever; he responded to Congress's refusal to raise the minimum wage by rewriting the Service Contract Act of 1965; and, as a matter of routine, he took to threatening, cajoling, and mocking Congress, and to informing the country's lawmakers that by declining to consent to his will they were refusing to do "their jobs." In Obama's post-2011 world, it seems, legislators are not free agents but parliamentary subordinates possessed of two choices: either they do what he wants, or they watch him do what he wants. Refusing assent seems to be regarded as an entirely illegitimate option. This, it should be perfectly obvious, is the attitude not of the statesman, but of the mugger. "Give me your wallet," the ruffian says, "or I will take it by force." That progressives who once championed the man for his calm and his virtue have taken to twisting themselves into knots in his defense should tell us all we need to know about their broader sincerity -- and his.
In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), which provided a general amnesty to almost three million illegal immigrants. According to the Associated Press, Reagan acted unilaterally when his Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner "announced that minor children of parents granted amnesty by [IRCA] would get protection from deportation." In fact, in 1987 former Attorney General Ed Meese issued a memorandum allowing the INS to defer deportation where "compelling or humanitarian factors existed" for children of illegal immigrants who had been granted amnesty and, in essence, given green cards and put on a path towards being "naturalized" as citizens. In announcing this policy, Reagan was not defying Congress, but rather carrying out the general intent of Congress which had just passed a blanket amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants....
The Bush administration relaxed these technical requirements under a "Family Fairness" policy to defer deportation of the spouses and children of illegal immigrants who were allowed to stay in this country and seek naturalization through the IRCA amnesty. Shortly thereafter, Bush worked with Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1990, which made these protections permanent. Significantly, the Bush policy and the 1990 Act affected only a small number of immigrants-about 180,000 people-in comparison to Obama's past (his 2012 implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program) and anticipated unilateral actions that will affect millions of immigrants.
Congressman Raul Labrador said on MSNBC that House Republicans and Democrats were close to a bipartisan deal on immigration, but the White House put a stick in the spokes:
"[The House bill] was something that would be acceptable to the House, would include all of the areas of immigration we needed to do. It was going to include border security, interior security, and the more the White House heard about what the House was doing, the more they interfered. His chief of staff, the president's chief of staff at the time, decided to call House Democrats and tell them that they needed to stop negotiating with House Republicans because they wanted the only vehicle for immigration reform, they want it to be the Senate bill. The president is in essence telling the American people it is only the Senate bill that is the only vehicle for immigration reform and that nothing else is acceptable."
BBC photo. Tony Hancock and Kevin McNally, who plays Hancock in the recreated episodes.
On November 2, 1954, the BBC radio sitcom "Hancock's Half Hour" made its debut. Starring comedian Tony Hancock and written by Alan Simpson and Ray Galton, the show quickly became appointment radio across the UK. The Galton and Simpson team went on to write "Steptoe and Son," a TV series about a junk man and his restless son, on which the US series "Sanford and Son" was based.
Of the 102 episodes broadcast over six series, only 77 or so survive, with many missing from the first three series. Recently a cache of scripts has been discovered, including a number of the missing episodes. Earlier this year, BBC Radio 4 recorded five of the scripts, selected by Galton and Simpson, with a cast of comic actors recreating the voices of Hancock and company. The recreated "Missing Hancocks" are airing this month, once a week, in honor of the show's 60th anniversary.
Miranda Sawyer of the Grauniad loves the Missing Hancocks":
Anyway, the first of these new episodes - The Matador - aired this week. And my misgivings disappeared. I am very glad that these shows have been redone. I thought that the new actors might be off-putting, but Kevin McNally sounded astonishingly like Tony Hancock, as did Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams. Simon Greenall, who plays Sid James, was a teeny bit out; but only a teeny bit, not enough to stop you listening. Anyhow, the real delight was the script. Written by Galton and Simpson, both now in their 80s, it was a proper winner. Great one-liners, fantastic flights of fancy, a consistency of character that led to joke upon joke (I loved Hancock, shoved into a Spanish bullfight by a series of Sid James's set-ups, only being annoyed with the bull for spoiling his gags: "That animal completely ruined my set.").
Comedy geeks have long had it that the Hancock shows are the first ever sitcoms. Before Hancock, comedy programmes consisted of sketches punctuated by other variety acts. Hancock's Half Hour, with its regular, and regularly frustrated, characters, became the blueprint for every sitcom that followed. From the evidence of this programme, that blueprint hasn't often been bettered.
Gillian Reynolds of the Telegraph calls it a failure:
The Missing Hancocks (Radio 4, Friday) is a valiant effort, remakes of five Hancock's Half Hour shows from the original Galton and Simpson scripts. No recordings of these shows are known to exist although they may one day, as many old programmes do, surface from someone's cellar. Meanwhile, Kevin McNally does his best to sound like Tony Hancock while Kevin Eldon stumbles over Bill Kerr's lines and Simon Greenall can't quite capture the spirit of Sid James. The closest to the original is Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams, but then all Williams's voices were character performances in the first place.
The laughs are still there in the lines and the studio audience responds to them, even to allusions to such ancient totems as Wilfred Pickles. I can't laugh. Hancock's Half Hour broke the mould of radio comedy by pretending to be naturalistic (in contrast to the contrived situations of Bandwagon, Up the Pole and ITMA), putting us beside Hancock and James and Kerr wherever they were. This doesn't. It is, as The Goon Show used to say, a cardboard replica.
My own opinion: The scripts are brilliant and worth bringing back from oblivion. Our family has listened to the first two and found them laugh-out-loud funny. McNally, Eldon, and Sebastian all do very well as Hancock, Kerr, and Williams, respectively; they all have the right cadence, timbre, and timing. Suzy Kane, who plays Andrée Melly in the first two "Missing" episodes, sounded more like Series 1 girlfriend Moira Lister at the beginning of the first episode, but by the end of the episode, she had more of Melly's French-tinged accent.
Simon Greenall doesn't get Sid James at all. Yes, Sid is part of the demimonde, but he rarely sounds like a gravelly-voiced hoodlum announcing his intention to mug you. Sid's a charmer. Someone with a musical ear would have noticed the melodic, sing-song quality of his voice, particularly when Sid is at his most oleaginous. "You don't want to worry about that." "Shhherrr-tainly!"
The new recordings are available for listening online for one month after the initial broadcast:
In addition to these re-recordings on Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra has a couple of special broadcasts available.
Steve Punt's Hancock Cuttings: This three-hour collection of audio and commentary includes the October 19, 1951 episode of "Educating Archie" (with a song by 16-year-old Julie Andrews, when her voice was still operatic); Tony Hancock's infamous "Face-to-Face" interview from 1960; "''Ancock's Anthology," a Christmas Day 1964 broadcast in which Tony introduces favorite music and reads humorous short fiction, a 1965 Pye Records rerecording of the Hancock's Half Hour TV episode "The Missing Page" (about Hancock's frustration that the last page of a murder mystery has been torn out of the book), and the first episode of the radio series, from November 2, 1954.
("Educating Archie," like the "Charlie McCarthy Show" in the US, starred a ventriloquist's dummy as a cheeky schoolboy. Tony Hancock was one of several comedians who did a stint as Archie's tutor and foil. Hancock's love interest was Hattie Jacques, who would play Hancock's harridan secretary Griselda Pugh in the fourth and fifth series of "Hancock's Half Hour.")
The New Elizabethans: Tony Hancock: One in a series of 10-minute profiles of "men and women whose actions during the reign of Elizabeth II have had a significant impact on lives in these islands and/or given the age its character, for better or worse."
It's possible to play these streams in an external application like VideoLAN VLC (and even save them locally for offline listening), if you have the direct URL to the stream. The iPlayerConverter site will take an eight-character BBC program ID and generate the direct stream links. Because streams older than a week aren't findable via iPlayerConverter, here are direct links to streams of the programs mentioned above, which you can use in applications like VLC:
- Steve Punt's Hancock Cuttings. Available until December 1, 2014.
- Missing Hancocks: Episode 1: The Matador. Available until December 1, 2014.
- Missing Hancocks: Episode 2: The Newspaper. Available until December 8, 2014.
- Missing Hancocks: Episode 3: The Hancock Festival. Available until December 15, 2014.
- Missing Hancocks: Episode 1 with Director's Commentary. Available until December 1, 2014.
- New Elizabethans: Tony Hancock
Jonathan Gruber is the MIT economics professor, often called the "architect of Obamacare," who has said publicly that Obamacare's passage owed much to the "stupidity of the American people" and that its authors necessarily obfuscated the impacts on taxpayers in order to get the bill passed.
"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Gruber said. "Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."
Gruber added that he wished "we could make it all transparent," but said the bill would not have passed if not for the administration's art of deception on key features of the law.
"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," Gruber said. "If you had a law that made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed."
The University of Pennsylvania deleted the video but restored it after public outcry. Three additional videos have surfaced of Gruber making the same argument in different appearances.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean expressed outrage at Gruber's comments:
"The problem is not that he said it-the problem is that he thinks it," Dean said. "The core problem under the damn law is it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don't fundamentally understand the American people. That's what the problem is."
You may recall that Gruber was cited earlier this year as stating on at least seven occasions that Obamacare subsidies were intended as an incentive for states to set up their own Obamacare exchanges. If a state refused to set up their own exchanges, the subsidies would be denied to the citizens of that state, who would, Gruber hoped, pressure their state politicians to establish a state exchange. Now Gruber calls that provision of the law a "typo," but it is the central issue in Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's challenge to the Obamacare law.
House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker when the bill passed, is now claiming never to have heard of Gruber. But Hot Air has a screen grab from Pelosi's website and a video clip showing that Nancy Pelosi cited Jon Gruber as an authority in arguing for Obamacare's passage.
Here's Pelosi on November 5, 2009, citing Gruber's analysis of the Democrats' Obamacare bill.
Gruber is also described as the architect of Romneycare, the Massachusetts socialized medicine program on which Obamacare is based. Mitt Romney should have been smart enough to know that if you want a reform grounded in economic reality, you go to the University of Chicago or George Mason U. You don't go to the statists and socialists that define the economic department at my alma mater.
Keith Hennessey writes that Obamacare is far from the only government program that has been enacted by hiding subsidies and costs. Hennessey has a long list that only scratches the surface. Hennessey writes:
Apparently Dr. Gruber thinks it's OK to lie to American voters when his allies are in power to enact policies that he wants but the voters wouldn't. He then says American voters are "stupid" both for not agreeing with his value choices and for not figuring out the deception.
When you strip away all the complexity, economic policy is ultimately an expression of elected officials making difficult value choices. If over time these officials make value choices that do not reflect the values of the people whom they represent, they can, should, and will be replaced.
When these same elected officials, and those who advise them, deliberately construct policies to hide value choices that would be unpopular were they transparent and explicit, we end up with two terrible outcomes. We get policies that do not reflect our values, and we re-elect representatives who are lying to us.
The National Journal's Ron Fournier, who emphatically identifies himself as "not 'on the right,'" objects to efforts to spin the story as one in which only conservatives are outraged:
[Gruber] called you stupid. He admitted that the White House lied to you. Its officials lied to all of us--Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women.
Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives....
Last year, The Post helped document how Obama and his advisers knowingly misled the public during his 2012 reelection campaign by repeatedly saying that, under Obamacare, people could keep their doctors and keep their health plans. To knowingly mislead is to lie.
"It's hard to know what might have happened if the truth had won the day," writes Post columnist Kathleen Parker. "But we do know that truth squandered is trust lost."
And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies. No way around it, unless you're willing to accept a political system that colors its lies--the reds, the whites, and the blues.
STILL MORE: In a June 2012 interview with PBS Frontline, Gruber tells us that the decision to mislead on employer-provided medical insurance went all the way to the top.
Here's what Gruber says in the video:
Now, the problem is, it's a political nightmare, ... and people say, "No, you can't tax my benefits." So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, "Well, you know" -- I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, "Look, I can't just do this." He said: "It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?" And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic.
That ultimately became the genesis of what's called the "Cadillac tax" in the healthcare bill which I think is one of the most important and bravest parts of the health care law and, um, doesn't get nearly enough credit.
In that same PBS Frontline episode, Gruber explains the three key elements that made Romneycare in Massachusetts "work": A relatively low number of uninsured, an insurance market "destroyed" (Gruber's word) by a previously-adopted requirement to ignore pre-existing conditions, and most of all, $400 million a year in Other People's Money:
Third, we had a major source of financing in place, which we had formerly had a pretty powerful senator named Ted Kennedy who had been delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our safety-net hospitals that the Bush administration was threatening to take away.
The Romney administration, to their credit, went to Washington and said, "Can we keep this money if we use it to cover the uninsured?" And the Bush administration, to their credit, said yes.
So those pieces pulled together made a really interesting opportunity to actually cover the uninsured and fix a broken, non-group market on the federal dime. And that was a really unique opportunity, which I think Romney as a kind of management consultant was excited to take advantage of.
Long-time Boston Herald political columnist Howie Carr says that Gruber (MIT '87, Harvard Ph.D. '92) is just another goober from Cambridge.
Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?
C'mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He's the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as "too stupid" to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.
Maybe he's right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.
This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same "mistake" five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it's part of your stump speech.
Nice Deb is compiling all the Gruber videos and links to stories and transcripts.
The Conservative Voices blog is self-hosting the Gruber videos, just in case they get taken down on other sites. The Gruber category has entries with individual videos as well. (Gruber's speech to the University of Rhode Island Fall 2012 Honors Colloqium has been deleted from URI's YouTube account, for example, even though they had submitted it to amara.org to crowdsource the transcription of the video.)
NRO's Rich Lowry wants to thank Jonathan Gruber:
He has done us all a favor by affording us an unvarnished look into the progressive mind, which values complexity over simplicity, favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American.
Complexity is a staple of liberal policymaking. It is a product of its scale and reach, but also of the imperative to hide the ball. Taxing and spending and redistributive schemes tend to be unpopular, so clever ways have to be found to deny that they are happening. This is what Gruber was getting at. One reason Obamacare was so convoluted is that its supporters didn't want to straightforwardly admit how much the law was raising taxes and using the young and healthy to subsidize everyone else.
Gruber crowed about the exertions undertaken to make an unpopular tax on expensive health-insurance plans, the so-called Cadillac tax, more palatable. It was levied on employers instead of employees. No one realized, Gruber explained, that the tax would be functionally the same even if not directly imposed on workers. This wasn't a one-off deception. This kind of sleight of hand is crucial to the progressive project, which always involves imposing taxes, regulations, and mandates at one remove from the average person so he or she won't realize that the costs are passed down regardless.
Most liberals would never come out and call Americans stupid in a public forum, as Gruber did. But the debate between conservatives and liberals on health-care policy and much else comes down to how much average Americans can be trusted to make decisions on their own without the guiding, correcting hand of government. An assumption that Americans are incompetent is woven into the Left's worldview. It is reluctant to entrust individuals with free choice for fear they will exercise it poorly and irresponsibly.
The Oklahoma Democratic Party is trying to invalidate the re-election of Republican 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin because the Democratic nominee died two days before the election.
Earl Everett, 81, died Sunday from injuries suffered in a Friday auto collision. Our condolences go to his friends and family. It's an honorable thing to run for public office, perhaps all the more when there is little expectation of success. Everett won the primary against an opponent barely one-third his age. In the general election, Mullin won with 70% to Everett's 25% and 5% for an independent candidate.
In August 1998, Jacquelyn Morrow Lewis Ledgerwood finished second in the Democratic primary to select a challenger to then-three term U. S. Senator Don Nickles. Ledgerwood had died almost six weeks before the primary, but it was too late under Oklahoma law to take her name off of the ballot. In the primary, Ledgerwood had 2197 votes more than third-place candidate Jerry Kobyluk, and so she advanced to the runoff election, notwithstanding her death. The Deceased-American vote isn't as strong in Oklahoma as it is in, say, Chicago, and Ledgerwood lost the runoff to Don Carroll by a 75%-25% vote. According to news reports at the time, had Ledgerwood won the runoff, the Oklahoma Democratic Party organization could have chosen a replacement nominee.
In 1990, District Judge Frank Ogden III, serving Judicial District 1 in the Panhandle, was three months deceased when he won re-election with over 90% of the vote. His opponent demanded to be named the victor, even though 9 out of 10 voters preferred a dead man to him. (This may be the greatest "none of the above" victory in Oklahoma history.) The Oklahoma Supreme Court declared the election valid, resulting in an immediate vacancy to be filled by the incoming governor when the term of the new judge was to begin.
26 O. S. 1-105, which governs this situation, has been changed twice since 1990. Here is the 1990-2009 version, the 2009-2014 version (currently in effect), and the version that takes effect on January 1, 2015.
Section 3 of the current version appears to dictate that a special election must be held:
If said death [of a party's nominee] should occur five (5) days or more following the Runoff Primary Election date, a special General Election shall be called by the Governor and shall be conducted according to the laws governing such elections, Section 12-101 et seq. of this title, except that there shall be no filing period or special Primary Election and the candidates in the special General Election shall be the substitute candidate named by the central committee and the nominee of other political parties elected in the Primary or Runoff Primary, and any previously filed independent candidates.
In the new version of the law, a special election would be held only if the deceased candidate won the election. The party could still (as now) substitute a nominee up until the Friday after the runoff election -- about 60 days before the general. If the nominee snuffs it after that point, his name remains on the ballot.
(For decades, Oklahoma's election season began with filing the second week in July. In recent years, filing was moved back to June and now April, in order to ensure that servicemen serving overseas could fully participate. The current schedule allows at each stage of the process sufficient time between when the candidate list is determined and when the election will be held to print ballots, send them out, and get them back from overseas voters.)
The current, soon-to-be-superseded version of the law is problematic. It actually creates a perverse incentive for a political party to assassinate its own ineffective nominee in order to get a do-over with a better, handpicked nominee. (Please note: I am NOT saying that this has ever happened.) The party could select the best possible replacement nominee from a pool of candidates that might have been unavailable during the normal election process because they were running for re-election or for higher offices. The other party is stuck with its nominee, and no other independents can get into the race.
In a normal election, a potential candidate has to weigh likelihood of success against the cost of not running for re-election or for election to a more winnable seat. In a special election, anyone can run without risking their current position or foregoing a more favorable race. In a special election right after a general election, a candidate could run without risking his current office. Some candidates will have recent experience, a campaign organization, and name recognition to bring to a special election.
Over the last 20 years, the Democrats have only managed to win only one of Oklahoma's congressional seats: Rural eastern Oklahoma's 2nd District. Brad Carson and Dan Boren held the seat for 12 years. They'd like it back, and Earl Everett's untimely demise gives them an opportunity.
Jamison Faught has a list of possible replacement nominees, and he rates them on likelihood of being selected and competitiveness in a special election. I'm surprised that Faught has overlooked what may be the Democrats' best option, an option that seems obvious given the county-by-county election maps Faught has posted.
The Democrats' State Superintendent nominee, John Cox, won 20 of the 26 counties in the 2nd Congressional District, and won the district with 84,726 votes (53.4%) to Joy Hofmeister's 73,803 (46.6%). By comparison, Joe Dorman only won 43.1% of the 2nd District vote. (Dorman barely outperformed Labor Commissioner nominee Mike Workman in the district, 68,835 to 67,276). In fact, Cox is the only statewide Democratic candidate to win in a congressional district, and the 2nd is the only district he won.
A congressional election has an added dynamic -- the partisan balance of power -- that is missing from a statewide race. In this case, however, the balance of power is known. The Republicans will have the majority in the House regardless of the result of this special election. Would it make a difference to 2nd District conservative Democrats to know that they could have a Democrat congressman once again without handing control of the House to wacky liberals from San Francisco or New York City?
A victory in a special election after last Tuesdays shellacking would be a morale boost to state and national Democratic organizations. It's like winning the Bedlam game -- if OU manages to beat OSU, the whipping they took from Baylor on Saturday won't sting as badly. If Democrats were to convince someone like Cox to run, expect Democrat donors to throw everything they can into this race.
It was a good day, a better day that anyone expected, a real wave election.
The reaction of my local liberal friends on Facebook reveal their contempt for the state where they live, their bigoted opinions of conservatives, and their disconnect from political reality. One wrote a very apt "chin-up" post -- the sort of things I've seen conservatives write to console each other after a loss -- but she ended it with this weird attempt at a barb: "And to those of you gleeful over the election results, I just want to remind you that our President is STILL BLACK." I imagine she imagined people like me shaking our fists and gritting our teeth at those words. (Never mind that the first African-American was just elected to the Senate from a Southern state since reconstruction -- and he's a Republican. Never mind that her party never elected an African-American to statewide office or congress during almost a century of dominance in Oklahoma -- but the GOP has.) Now if she'd said "STILL A SOCIALIST" or "STILL A MISERABLE FAILURE AT HOME AND ABROAD" -- that would have spoiled my gloating a bit. But if she thinks the president's ethnic background is the source of conservative dislike, she and her pals are going to continue to lose elections. So much for the soi-disant "reality-based" community.
I spent part of my Tuesday in a library in Hialeah, Florida. I was in the area on business, free during the day but working during the night. The library was in a large city park where I'd hoped to attend a rally with Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Jeb Bush that I'd read about online, but I had misread the date. (I think it had been two days before.)
When I arrived and pulled into the parking lot, I found two teams of electioneers, one Democrat and one Republican, handling out pamphlets and ballot cards. An older couple with the Democrat group stopped the car in front of me to chat with the driver and give her some literature. Another Democrat electioneer waved me around the blockade.
Once parked, I walked toward the library and heard an older man calling out to me. He was with a group of a half-dozen volunteers -- both young and old -- holding signs for Republican candidates. He handed me a card for Gov. Scott, a card for the GOP county assessor candidate, and a card listing all the GOP candidates in Miami-Dade County. All three cards were in English on on side and Spanish on the other. The man said to me, "Please vote for Gov. Scott. It's important!" I gave him a thumbs-up and walked on.
This must have been a key precinct, because near the entrance was a reporter in a suit holding a microphone and talking to a camera, occasionally interviewing voters.
Inside the library, I had a view through interior picture windows to the polling station set up in the library's meeting room. I pondered the possibility of pulling a reverse Kathy Taylor -- voting in-person in Florida and absentee in Oklahoma -- but I could see that I'd be thwarted by Florida's racist voter suppression laws. Florida does not have election day registration, and with photo ID required, I couldn't very well pretend to be someone else.
I was pleased to see that Florida, like Oklahoma, uses scanned paper ballots. Voters are given a big green folder to carry their ballots privately from the voting carrels to the ballot box scanners. I watched as several waves of voters came and went. Election workers walked the floor, directing incoming voters to the sign-in desk and helping voters with finished ballots feed them into the machines.
That evening I spent an hour after the polls closed at the Miami-Dade Republican watch party at a Cuban restaurant on the western edge of the city. We ate fried plantain chips, carnitas, empanadas, and tequeños while cheering the results. The crowd of about 60 -- but this only one of many GOP watch parties around Miami, I learned -- were especially pleased that the local Democrat congressman, Joe Garcia, had conceded defeat to Republican school baord member Carlos Curbelos. We all held our breath as Gov. Scott maintained his narrow lead over the oompa-loompa-colored flip-flopping former governor, Charlie Crist.
More analysis will have to wait, but here are a few post-mortems worth your time:
The New York Post's Michael Goodwin called for a repudiation of Obamaism ("a quasi-socialist commitment to a more powerful government at home and an abdication of American leadership around the world") and the voters delivered.
Via Ace, a good Washington Post story on how the GOP national apparatus upped their game to win the Senate this year.
The finger-pointing begins: Chris "Tingle Up My Leg" Matthews says Obama lost the midterms because he's surrounded by yes-men.
Pro-immigration-law-enforcement Democrat Mickey Kaus notes that Democrat supporters of amnesty lost their seats.
Philip Klein notes that almost half of the Democrat Senators who voted for Obamacare are gone -- four more lost on Tuesday and one more is likely to lose in December.
Some Republicans are saying that, since this was Pres. Obama's attitude toward Republicans in 2009, this should be our newly elected Republicans' attitude toward the Democrats:
(For the record, I liked the Depp version better than the Wilder version and this scene is one of the reasons why, but it works for the current purpose.)
Here are the candidates I'm recommending and voting for (when I can) in the Oklahoma general election on November 4, 2014. Links lead to more detailed information or earlier blog entries. (This entry may change as I decide to add more detail or discuss additional races between now and election day. The entry is post-dated to keep it at the top.)
For your convenience, here's a printable one-page "cheat sheet" version to take along to the polls and pass along to friends, but please read the detail and click the links below.
U. S. Senate: James Lankford (R) (unexpired term) and Jim Inhofe (R) (full term). Both are good men and solid conservatives. If you want a Republican majority in the Senate, we have to do our part in Oklahoma and elect Republicans to the two seats on our ballot.
U. S. House: Vote Republican (R). Jim Bridenstine won re-election without opposition. We need to keep all five of Oklahoma's districts in the GOP column. Steve Russell, running for Lankford's 5th District seat, will be a principled, courageous conservative addition to Congress.
Governor: Mary Fallin (R). While Fallin has failed to lead vigorously during this conservative Republican moment in Oklahoma politics, she has signed the good bills that the legislature sent her (even if reluctantly). Her Democratic opponent is conservative on a couple of important issues but is likely to fill his cabinet, state boards and commissions, and the state bench with Democratic allies who aren't as conservative.
Lt. Governor: Todd Lamb (R). Charlie Meadows of OCPAC calls him "the best Lt. Governor we have ever had." Lamb is focused on making Oklahoma a better state to start and build businesses.
State Superintendent: Joy Hofmeister. Although I have my reservations about Hofmeister, her Democrat opponent wants to take education in the wrong direction -- more administrators (fewer would be better), more state funding (more local funding and parental choice would be better), and social promotion. State Sen. Rick Brinkley writes:
I believe her experience on the State School Board and as a classroom teacher prepares her for this position. I am most impressed that she served on the State Board, didn't like the way she saw education headed in Oklahoma, resigned, took on the incumbent and won. She risked a lot for what she believes in and that I greatly respect. I've met John Cox. He seems very nice. I just can't see a person who manages 16 teachers having the experience to run the [State Department of Education.
Labor Commissioner: Mark Costello (R). The incumbent has been working closely with business owners and workers to make the Oklahoma workplace a safer place. Restore Oklahoma Public Education leader Jenni White writes of Costello, "Mark is one of a very few conservatives I have ever met that just intuitively understands the ideals of conservatism."
State legislature: In general (with one important exception -- House 12) I encourage you to vote for the Republican. Here are some races that deserve special mention.
Senate District 6: Josh Brecheen (R). Representing southeast Oklahoma, Brecheen was a champion in the battle to repeal Common Core. The State Chamber wants him gone because he's not a corporate-welfare fan. He voted the wrong way on National Popular Vote, but publicly recanted his vote and called on the House to block it.
Senate District 18: Kim David (R). One of the sensible senators who opposed National Popular Vote.
House District 12: One of the few exceptions to the general rule to vote for Republicans. The GOP nominee in this race supports National Popular Vote and, if elected, could do more harm to the conservative cause nationally than the term-limited Democrat he wants to replace. I encourage my Republican friends to leave the ballot blank in this race.
House District 14: George Faught (R). Faught left the House two years ago to run for Congress, but, sadly, he didn't win the nomination. It will be good to have this principled, intelligent conservative back in the State House.
House District 76: David Brumbaugh (R). Incumbent Rep. Brumbaugh has been a consistent conservative voice for Broken Arrow. He deserves particular praise for putting forward a bill to to require counties to include all funds in their annual budgets. Brumbaugh was one of eight legislators to receive a 100% on the Oklahoma Constitution's annual conservative index.
House District 87: Jason Nelson (R). The leader in the State House in the fight to repeal Common Core.
Here are some general thoughts on district judge races and how the process works. Here's a podcast of my KFAQ conversation on judicial races with Pat Campbell, Eddie Huff, and Charlie Biggs.
District 10 District Judge, Office 1 (Osage County): John Kane. A good man and a well-respected judge, facing an opponent with a problematic personal history.
District 14 District Judge, Office 1 (Tulsa and Pawnee Counties): Incumbent William Kellough is praised for his temperament and damned for his habit of reducing sentences in heinous crimes. His opponent, Caroline Wall, was ousted in 2006 over similar charges of excessive leniency and concerns about temperament and work ethic. Kellough has a massive financial advantage in the race.
District 14 District Judge, Office 2 (Tulsa County judicial election district 3): Sharon Holmes. Incumbent Jesse Harris did not seek re-election. Holmes is described as a hardworking attorney, effective in the courtroom, and a woman of integrity.
District 14 District Judge, Office 8 (Tulsa County judicial election district 5): Doug Drummond. Drummond, a prosecutor, has amassed broad and substantial support, particularly from conservatives in the legal community, in his race to unseat incumbent Mark Barcus, although the local establishment is still backing Barcus.
District 14 District Judge, Office 10 (Tulsa and Pawnee Counties): Eric Quandt. Quandt, a well-regarded workers compensation judge, has also developed strong support against incumbent Mary Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has been criticized for frequent reversals. Fitzgerald is described as being "part of the problem at the county courthouse" and a source of frustrations for those dealing with family and domestic cases. Quandt is praised for even-handedness; even attorneys with whom Quandt has had personal differences say that he treated them fairly in his courtroom. The local establishment is backing Fitzgerald. (On a personal note, when I questioned Quandt's candidacy based on a campaign consultant's support for National Popular Vote, Quandt contacted me in a very gracious way, and we had a good conversation. Quandt thinks National Popular Vote is a ridiculous idea, a bad solution for a non-existent problem.)
District 14 District Judge, Office 14 (Tulsa and Pawnee Counties): Kurt Glassco. Despite his background as a Democratic candidate for Congress many years ago, Judge Glassco is well-regarded by conservative Republican attorneys as a fair and skillful arbiter. John Eagleton writes: "Judge Glassco has my respect. I have appeared in his court and observed him handling hundreds of cases. He is a great judge. He follows the law without injecting personalities into the outcome. We need more judges like him." His challenger evidently feels comfortable with the redefinition of terms in the law and the overriding of popular will, not a desirable attribute in a judge.
These judges don't run against each other, but on an up-or-down retention ballot every six years. The three supremes all deserve to be voted out, as does Civil Appeals Court judge Jane Wiseman. Conservatives are supporting retention of Brian Goree on the Court of Civil Appeals and Gary Lumpkin on the Court of Criminal Appeals. So vote YES on Goree and Lumpkin, NO on everyone else.
On the back of your ballot, all three questions will support those currently serving in the military or those who have served, and all three deserve your YES vote.
Tulsa City Council:
All Tulsa City Council seats and the City Auditor position were up for election this year, but some were unopposed, and other races were settled in the primary. Only Districts 3, 6, 7, and 9 have general elections, and they'll be on a separate ballot from the rest of the races.
As predicted, city issues have been completely overshadowed by other races on the ballot and national and state issues. We were better off when city elections were held in the fall of odd-numbered years. My general rule is to find out which candidate is funded by the Money Belt and to vote the other way.
Tulsa City Council District 3: Virgil Wallace. Having graduated to the choir invisible, Roscoe Turner won't be on the ballot this year, but some of Turner's stalwart supporters have told me they're backing Wallace. The incumbent, David Patrick, is backed by the usual big money crowd, including developers who want to drive all other voices out of the zoning and land use planning process.
Tulsa City Council District 6: I'm not a fan of Skip Steele, who was the establishment-backed candidate used to get rid of reformer Jim Mautino. Connie Dodson, Steele's opponent, has run as a Democrat for State House. Her campaign appears to be funded primarily with her own funds, but she has a $5,000 contribution from Santiago Barraza, the president of ISTI Plant Services, a Tulsa Port of Catoosa-based manufacturer with offices in District 6 on 21st Street west of Lynn Lane Rd. Apparently, Barraza either really likes Dodson, or Steele did something that really hacked him off. Other donors include Democratic super-donor George Krumme, Sharon King Davis, Patty Eaton, and Mariscos El Centenario. (What an unusual first name!)
Tulsa City Council District 7: Arianna Moore. Republican incumbent Moore's leading challenger is liberal Democrat Anna America, Kathy Taylor's campaign manager. America had been a school board member but then resigned when she moved out of the district. Kathy Taylor, Taylor's husband Bill Lobeck, other members of the Lobeck/Taylor family, and other members of their political orbit are major donors to America's campaign.
I've been accused of being motivated by mere partisanship in picking Mrs. Moore over Ms. America, and there's some irony in that accusation. When I ran for City Council in 2002, I was endorsed by just about every neighborhood association leader in District 4, most of whom were Democrats. Anna America, then head of the White City neighborhood association, was one of the few exceptions. She supported Democrat Tom Baker, who was backed by the Chamber and the developer groups and who had demonstrated hostility to neighborhood concerns. (When Renaissance Neighborhood successfully fought the location of a new fire station in the middle of their neighborhood, Baker referred to them on the Fire Department's public-access TV show as CAVE people -- Citizens Against Virtually Everything.)
I always assumed America endorsed Baker because he was the Democratic nominee, and she was being a good party soldier, but maybe it was because she didn't want someone on Council who would work for neighborhood empowerment in zoning and historic preservation.
Tulsa City Council District 9: G. T. Bynum is no conservative, and he seems to be laying the groundwork for another tax increase proposal for river projects. His opponent, Paul Tay, has some interesting ideas on urban planning and transportation, but his personal conduct distracts from those ideas and makes him impossible to endorse.
MORE: The ladies who led the fight to repeal Common Core in Oklahoma have posted their personal endorsements. And they reposted this guide to the judicial retention ballot by Sharon Annesley of the Oklahoma Liberty Tea Party.
The Oklahomans for Life 2014 primary candidate questionnaire is online. There are separate sets of questions for state and federal candidates, and you can read the full text of the questions to which the candidates are responding.
Here are the Tulsa Beacon's endorsements.
Earlier this year, I heard a Republican activist talking excitedly about the possibility that the Democrats might have only an also-ran as nominee for governor or perhaps no nominee at all. If the Democratic nominee failed to reach 20% of the vote, the party would be decertified and lose its automatic place on the ballot. It was never a likely scenario, but it illustrates the overconfidence Republicans had at the beginning of 2014.
During the 2014 legislative session, many conservative Republican voters became disenchanted with Gov. Mary Fallin. As I wrote before the June primary: "While Gov. Mary Fallin eventually did the right thing on Obamacare exchanges and Common Core, her dithering on these clear-cut issues makes me worry about her decision-making in a lame-duck term. Fallin failed to establish a good working relationship with her own party's legislative leadership, culminating in her veto snit-fit, in which she killed several good bills, including some she'd requested, to make some sort of point." Her inability to advance the conservative agenda assertively in an ideal political environment speaks poorly of her leadership abilities.
Back in June, many conservatives voted for Dax Ewbank to express their disappointment with Fallin's leadership.
Now Ewbank himself and many of his supporters have come out in support of the Democratic nominee, State Rep. Joe Dorman. Because Dorman has a pro-life and pro-gun-rights voting record, some of the usual obstacles to conservatives voting for the Democratic nominee aren't there.
Republican Sen. Patrick Anderson from Enid is backing Dorman, but that seems to be grounded in a local issue, Fallin's decision to close the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, a state institution for the developmentally disabled. Anderson says Fallin froze him out of discussions over the future of that facility:
"Joe and I don't agree on all issues, but I think he'd make a fine governor and he's definitely someone who has always, and who will always be willing to talk about whatever the issues are that are important to our community in northwest Oklahoma," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, Gov. Fallin hasn't been willing to do that."
But is Dorman as conservative as some of his supporters claim? Oklahoma Constitution editor Steve Byas reports that Dorman's votes in the legislature have earned him only a 39% lifetime rating in the Constitution's conservative index, and only a 31% rating in the most recent session. That may be an impressive rating for a Democrat, but it still means far more bad votes than good votes.
Byas also calls attention to the governor's power to appoint judges and board and commission members and to fill Senate vacancies:
As a Democrat, Governor Joe Dorman will fill state government with a whole lot of Democrats. Expecting these Democrats to be conservatives is laughable. I guess you can find a four-leaf clover every now and then, too. Regardless of what many people argue to the contrary, there are many Republicans who are worth appointing to state offices. No, I do not expect Governor Mary Fallin to appoint multitudes of conservatives, but I can guarantee you that she will appoint a whole lot more than Dorman, simply because she will appoint more Republicans than Dorman will appoint.
Then, we have the state judicial appointments. If Dorman were to pull the big upset, expect liberal Democrats to take the place of retiring state judges at the appellate court level. While these judges face the voters in retention votes every six years, no appellate judges have ever been denied the additional six years by the voters. Dorman's judges, drawn from the ranks of an increasingly left-wing Democrat Party, will issue liberal decisions for years past the time Dorman is back home in Rush Springs, eating watermelon at the annual festival.
Let's say there is an unexpected vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Do you think Governor Dorman will appoint anyone better than Jim Inhofe to fill that vacancy until the election? Get real. And, guess who will be the candidate of the [Democrat] Party for the U.S. Senate should the great Jim Inhofe have to step down from the Senate? I suspect it will be Joe Dorman. If you cause the election of Dorman for governor, you just might be picking Inhofe's replacement as well.
In September, Oklahoma GOP chairman Dave Weston pointed to Dorman's ambiguous answers in an interview in The Gayly -- a paper that describes itself as "keeping the FABULOUS south-central United States informed on current news and events affecting Lesbians, Homosexuals, Bi-sexuals & Transgenders":
Dorman criticized Gov. Mary Fallin for her moral stance on traditional marriage stating, "When you have a standard set in place, especially like that handed down from the federal government, you have to apply that [marriage rights] equally."
He appeared to apologize to The Gayly staff for his vote in support of a House resolution to reaffirm Oklahoma's support of traditional marriage. When asked how he could "support equality" while also voting to uphold traditional marriage Dorman said:
"Different situations. I serve House District 65 and I try to serve my constituents to the best of my ability... They have, I think, a different point of view when it comes to policies like that."
The Gayly adds: "Dorman said he voted the way he felt his district wanted him to vote."
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston pressed Dorman to tell the people of Oklahoma whether he supports redefining marriage and why.
"It sounds like Joe Dorman meets with voters in Rush Springs and tells them he's a conservative Democrat who opposes reclassifying marriage," said Weston. "Then he tells The Gayly staff in Oklahoma City that's not really what he thinks and proceeds to criticize Governor Fallin for holding the same position that he previously told his constituents he believes."
Weston pointed out other examples where, seemingly under the mere pressure of an interview, Dorman appeared to apologize for and back away from his conservative votes on social issues.
Joe Dorman also has a problem on fiscal issues. Dorman wants to lead Oklahoma into the financial trap known as Medicaid expansion. The state gets a short-term burst of Federal funds, but the price is making more Oklahomans dependent on government-funded healthcare (many of them young and able-bodied), and massive state budget obligations in the out-years, after federal subsidies dry up, obligations that will squeeze out funding for roads and education, among other state priorities. Medicaid expansion increases eligibility, but doesn't improve access, hurting the very people that the program was originally intended to help.
The best a conservative can say about Joe Dorman is that he may be as conservative as Mary Fallin on a couple of issues, but he is well to her left on other important issues, and his party affiliation and ambitions for higher office will pull him further to the left should he be elected. (There is a long list of Democrats who once claimed to be pro-but who abandoned that stance when they began to hanker for the presidency -- Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson to name just a few.)
Byas says he does not "expect Governor Fallin to lead us to the conservative promised land, but she will probably sign good bills, if the Republican-dominated Legislature passes them. Sure, she waited to the last minute to sign the repeal of Common Core, but she did sign it." Byas says Fallin has the highest conservative rating of any of the six governors who have served since his paper's founding in 1979. While that rating is only 63%, that's far better than Dorman's lifetime 39% rating.
Finally, regarding National Popular Vote: On Thursday, I asked Gov. Fallin's spokesman, Alex Weintz, "Would she be willing to say that she would veto any form of a National Popular Vote proposal that reaches her desk?" He stated by return email, "The position we have previously taken is, 'Governor Fallin is opposed to the National Popular Vote.'" (I would have preferred a more strongly worded stance that fully closes the door on the idea.) Still, the Dorman campaign has not stated a position, but I would expect him to support it, given the unanimous support last session's bill had from Senate Democrats. Pressure from the national GOP against NPV (the RNC voted unanimously to condemn the idea) ought to keep Fallin on the right side of that issue, even if it does reach her desk. While the presidency or vice presidency is out of reach, she may reasonably have hopes of a federal appointment under a Republican president as her time as governor ends. Pressure from national Democrats would pull Dorman toward signing the bill.
While Republicans can safely sacrifice one house seat out of 101 to keep the backer of a dangerous scheme out of the House GOP caucus, we cannot safely sacrifice a position with the power of appointment and the ability to sign or veto legislation.
The other two candidates are not even a blip on the pollsters' radar. Either Mary Fallin or Joe Dorman will be elected governor on Tuesday. Mary Fallin is clearly the more conservative of the two, and I hope you'll join me in voting for her re-election.
House District 12 consists of most of Wagoner County, the part that is not in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow conurbation. The district lies mainly east of 257th East Ave (Midway Road) and south of 51st Street. The incumbent is Wade Rousselot, a Democrat finishing his fifth term, currently serving as the assistant floor leader of that party's dwindling minority in the State House.
The lone Republican to file against him is David Tackett, a Republican political operative with a mixed reputation among the conservatives who have dealt with him.
Multiple reliable sources have informed me that Tackett has been working with National Popular Vote lobbyists to give them opportunities to hoodwink grassroots Republicans into supporting legislation that would pledge Oklahoma's electoral votes to a far-left candidate who won the national popular vote, even if Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly for the conservative candidate.
I sent Tackett a message via Facebook on Tuesday: "David, I have been told that you have been assisting representatives and supporters of National Popular Vote to connect with grassroots conservatives here in Oklahoma. I'd like to know if there's any element of truth to that. What involvement have you had with NPV-related organizations? As a state representative, will you work to advance or to obstruct Oklahoma's entry into the National Popular Vote Compact? Thank you."
Facebook says that Tackett has seen my question, but Tackett has not replied. His non-response tells me that an honest answer is one that I wouldn't like.
(UPDATE: Charlie Meadows confirms Tackett's support for NPV and says that Tackett almost lost the OCPAC endorsement because of it.)
I won't repeat the full critique of NPV here (my first entry on NPV links to several critical articles), but here in a nutshell is why the Left wants it so badly. With NPV, the battle for the presidency will be fought in the populous media markets on the coasts, and Middle America will be ignored. Under the current system, state boundaries form a firewall against voter fraud, so that the Chicago cemetery vote only runs up the score in Illinois, but doesn't affect the result in any other state, but under NPV, fraudulent votes in Illinois would effectively cancel legitimate votes in Oklahoma.
The campaign for NPV is funded by the Left, but they have found a few individuals on the right to carry water for them. They seem to find former legislators who were genuinely conservative while in office, but who made some bad decisions in their personal lives that may also have hurt them financially and politically. Google the person's name and you learn that he or she was once a conservative warrior, and that's enough to persuade a grassroots conservative in Oklahoma to give the person a hearing. But search on the name plus the word "scandal" or "affair" and you understand why he or she didn't rise to higher office and are alerted that his or her political integrity might be as compromised as his or her personal life. NPV can offer these people a paycheck and a taste of the relevance they once enjoyed in exchange for the rental of their conservative credibility.
NPV lobbyists have been offering legislators electoral college "educational seminars" in desirable locations, like Las Vegas, Miami, St. Croix, and Scottsdale, Arizona. I have been told that certain legislators recently sent emails to colleagues, inviting them to an "educational seminar" in New York City, December 15-17, 2014, with "scholarships" to cover air fare and hotel paid by FairVote, a pro-NPV organization.
After the Oklahoma State Senate passed the NPV Compact bill (SB 906) with the support of 12 Republicans, grassroots conservatives mobilized to stop it, and some of the senators who voted for it recanted their support. Now NPV lobbyists, aided and abetted by consultants like David Tackett and Darren Gantz, are trying to bamboozle conservative activists to reduce resistance when the bill is run again.
I say bamboozle because my conversations with recovered NPV supporters remind me of conversations I've had with people who have escaped cults. NPV seems to have hit upon arguments that resonate emotionally with conservatives, so that the listener not only shuts off his own B. S. detector, but he shuts out perspectives from trusted voices before deciding to convert. Solidly conservative state senators like Josh Brecheen and Gary Stanislawski fell into NPV's trap. It took a massive outcry from grassroots conservatives to wake them up from their lobbyist-induced trance.
Look, I'm all for free and open debate, and I believe the truth will prevail, but I'm still not going to encourage my friends to meet with missionaries from the Church of Sighnutology "just to give their ideas a fair hearing."
Conservatives differ on many issues, but this is a matter of strategic importance, not a minor issue on which reasonable conservatives might differ. Oklahoma is the key battleground in a battle to control our nation into the distant future. Oklahoma would be the first conservative state to adopt the NPV compact. If Oklahoma says yes, it will set a precedent that will lower the resistance to the idea in other conservative states, and NPV supporters will be well on their way to victory.
I don't know whether Tackett's support of NPV is borne of venality or naïveté. Either way, he doesn't belong anywhere near the levers of power. His defeat will send the signal that supporting NPV is a career-ending move, and it will keep an NPV supporter out of a position of power.
Rep. Rousselot, the incumbent Democrat, will be term-limited in 2016. If Rousselot wins a final term, the 2016 election will be an open seat, and I would expect a robust contest for the Republican nomination. (Wagoner County Clerk Lori Hendricks, who has been a Paul Revere on the NPV issue, would make a great state rep.) If Tackett wins, an open NPV supporter will have a seat in the majority caucus and the incumbent's advantage for re-election in 2016. I don't know much about Rousselot's politics, but as a member of a tiny legislative minority, he can't do much damage, certainly not as much as Tackett can as a supporter of NPV in the majority caucus.
The current partisan balance in the State House is 72 Republicans to 29 Democrats. By my count of uncontested seats in the 2014 list of candidates, Republicans are guaranteed 46 seats in the new legislature to the Democrats' guaranteed 19. Only a handful of the contested seats are truly competitive, and the partisan composition of the new state house won't be much different from the old.
Conservatives don't need to pad the massive Republican majority with someone who is working, wittingly or unwittingly, for the strategic defeat of conservatism at the national level. I encourage my Republican friends in House District 12 to leave that ballot item blank.
Three justices of the State Supreme Court (Reif, Colbert, Watt), one justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals (Lumpkin), and five justices of the Court of Civil Appeals (Goodman, Wiseman, Barnes, Rapp, Goree) will be on Tuesday's ballot.
Oklahoma has a two-path appellate system: Criminal cases are appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the final word. Civil cases are appealed to the State Supreme Court, which may and usually does assign cases to the Court of Civil Appeals. Since 1967, judges in the appellate system have been appointed by the governor from choices presented by a panel dominated by a private club, the Oklahoma Bar Association. A newly appointed justice or appellate judge faces a retention ballot at the next general election and, if retained, every six years thereafter. Voters do not choose between candidates for these offices; each judge or justice faces a YES or NO vote. If the NO votes outnumber the YES votes, that judge is removed from office, creating a vacancy which is filled by the usual process.
I plan to vote YES on only one judicial retention: Court of Civil Appeals Judge Brian Goree, appointed by Gov. Fallin. Conservative blogger and attorney Don Danz wrote a tribute to Judge Goree at his swearing-in:
A former coworker, shooting buddy and good friend was sworn in as a judge today at the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In August, Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Brian Goree to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Everyone who knows Brian would attest to the fact that he is the most honest, ethical, moral and hard working person we know. He will be an outstanding and absolutely unbiased addition to the Oklahoma judiciary.
I urge every Oklahoman to vote NO on Court of Civil Appeals Judge Jane Wiseman. As a district judge in 2003, Wiseman demonstrated partiality toward the rich and powerful by approving the unconstitutional logrolling in the Vision 2025 ballot. Her 2003 decision ignored her own reasoning eight years earlier when she rightly discarded a sales tax proposal for the new county jail because it included funds for early intervention programs on the same ballot item as funds for the jail's construction and operation.
Earlier this month, we saw Judge Wiseman officiate over the first "legal" "same-sex wedding" in Oklahoma, showing her solidarity not with the people who voted overwhelmingly to uphold the only definition of marriage that makes sense, but instead with the leftist fascists who seek to impose their morality on every state. Wiseman demonstrated her support for judges legislating from the bench, for seeing the voters of Oklahoma as subjects to be subdued, not a sovereign, self-governing people.
There have been too many examples of judicial overreach and incoherence from Oklahoma's appellate courts.
In July, a majority of the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld State Rep. Sydney Fred Jordan's eligibility to be elected District Attorney. Their one-paragraph decision failed to address the legal questions raised by the briefs filed on behalf of Jordan and his opponent Steve Kunzweiler. The heart of the matter was when a state representative's term ends and when a district attorney is considered elected. The majority decision didn't speak to the language of the constitutional provision, Article V, Section 23, at question, or address the claim that Gragg v. Dudley applied to the District Attorney's office. Only Justice Taylor, in his dissent, wrestled with the substantive matters of interpretation raised by the case. The five justices who concurred in the seemingly tossed-off decision -- Kauger, Watt (up for retention), Winchester, Edmondson, and Gurich -- should be deeply embarrassed. Reif, who is on this year's retention ballot, recused himself. Colbert and Combs did not participate. On the strength of this decision alone, I will vote NO on Watt.
State Rep. David Derby reports that the Supreme Court's chief justice, Tom Colbert, came to the state capital to lobby against Derby's proposed reforms to the state's DUI laws. Derby was trying to move DUI charges into District Court so that they would be handled in a court of record, rather than municipal court. He cited one example where a driver had around two dozen DUIs, but because they were handled in municipal court, they failed to trigger a driver's license suspension. According to Derby, Colbert personally lobbied against the bill, which failed to advance.
A series of decisions earlier this year clinch the case against the three justices on the ballot. A split Supreme Court voted 5-4 to issue a stay of execution for brutal murderers Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner over disclosure of the drugs to be used in their lethal injection executions, despite our state constitution giving final jurisdiction over such issues to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The three justices up for retention this year -- Colbert, Reif, Watt -- were in the narrow majority along with Kauger and Combs. Taylor, Edmondson, Winchester, and Gurich dissented. In each of six decisions in the case, Taylor chided his colleagues, describing the majority as "crossing the Rubicon" and putting the Supreme Court in a matter where it has no constitutional authority, and thereby producing a "quagmire."
Of the substance of the murderers' appeal, Taylor wrote:
It is my view that from the very beginning this so called "civil" litigation has been frivolous and a complete waste of time and resources of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. The plaintiffs have no more right to the information they requested than if they were being executed in the electric chair, they would have no right to know whether OG&E or PSO were providing the electricity; if they were being hanged, they would have no right to know whether it be by cotton or nylon rope; or if they were being executed by firing squad, they would have no right to know whether it be by Winchester or Remington ammunition. I hope that this case ends any thought of future journeys down this path that has led this Court to this day. It is also my hope that this Court never again crosses the Rubicon.
If voters get rid of the three justices on the wrong side of this issue, perhaps we can get a few more justices like Steven Taylor. (Taylor is next up for retention in 2016. It should be noted, however, that Taylor was on the wrong side of the TABOR petition, voting to toss it out without a hearing.)
Oklahomans for Life has called for reform of the judicial selection process because our own courts have thwarted legislative and initiative efforts to pass pro-life legislation. Effectively, these judges have blocked Oklahomans from advancing a law that might provide the occasion for the Federal Courts to reconsider and possibly reverse Roe v. Wade.
When in doubt, vote them out. A Fallin appointment is likelier to be committed to judicial restraint than holdover appointees of Democratic governors Brad Henry and David Walters. The removal of an appellate judge by the voters would also send a message to other justices that voters are paying attention to their decisions.
A few hundred years ago, Voltaire commented on the execution of a British admiral, executed on the deck of his own ship for a failure to do his utmost. "Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres." ("In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time so to encourage the others.")
In Oklahoma, it is wise to fire an appellate judge from time to time so as to "encourage the others" to do justice and respect the will of the people they are sworn to serve.